By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
There's a big underground rock show in town Friday
night, but Flick is not on the bill. It's probably just as
well, because these kids — now with their major-label debut
on shelves — won't be underground for very long.
They'll be playing at the Fur Shop on Friday night, the
band's first Tulsa appearance despite living just up the
turnpike in Stockton, Mo.
That's near Springfield. Don't worry, you're not missing
much, according to the band. It's a
blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of town, and that's exactly
the environment in which Flick enjoys creating its slow,
serious, patient rock rhapsodies.
"It's a town of about 1,500 people. There's not a lot
going on," said Flick guitarist Oran Thornton of his
hometown during an interview this week. "Trevor and I work
better writing-wise being in someplace really quiet instead
of someplace fast-paced like New York or L.A. It's nice to
work in the middle of the night and walk outside to dead
silence, stars and crickets rather than some busy street."
Giving polish to the American-dream side of the music
business, Flick has reached the big time without straying
too far from its southern Missouri hamlet. Before the four
members — Oran, his lead singer brother Trevor, bassist Eve
Hill and drummer Adam McGrath — had graduated high school,
they had major-label scouts finding their way to Stockton
to hear them play. The band landed a few opening slots for
artists like Duncan Sheik, most of whom went back to their
record companies raving about "the kids in Missouri."
A deal with Columbia Records was a quick rescue from a
struggle to find place to play and an audience to fill it
in a rural area not known as a magnet for modern rock.
"Around here, it's pretty much all country music,"
Thornton said. "I think there are a few bars outside of
town. If they even have live music, it's probably some
country band that doesn't even play good country like Hank
Williams — it's that awful, hip new country."
With his distaste for country's current regime tucked
snugly under his cap, Oran and his bandmates ironically
recorded the bulk of their Columbia debut, "The Perfect
Kellulight," in a studio outside of Nashville.
Nashville turned out to be the perfect place to hone and
record the album — again because of the Thornton brothers'
desire to be away from any hustle and bustle.
"Down in Nashville, we were away from label pressures and
opinions of too many other people," Oran said. "It's
frustrating when too many people get around you while
you're trying to complete a thought. They try to put in
their input when you haven't really gotten your whole
thought out. We were able to finish our thoughts down
there, so the record came out more like we'd envisioned
Not that the members of Flick harbor any resentment
toward Columbia, a major among major labels. The company
has taken its time with Flick. Instead of snatching up the
band of youngsters, flinging an album onto the shelves and
shoving them out on the road, Columbia has given the band
the time and resources to develop, releasing an EP early on
and giving them space to shape the album.
"Making that EP was the learning experience," Oran said.
"At the time, we weren't completely happy with what was
happening. If we didn't go through that process, we
wouldn't have ever learned for sure what we wanted and what
we didn't want. You have to figure that out early on or
else other people will make you into what they want you to
Oran is a sprightly 19 years old. His brother Trevor is
his younger brother, and the other bandmates teeter
similarly around that median age. Somehow in the '90s
(after the '80s, during which most of the chart-toppers
were retooled boomers) we've come to think this is an
awfully young age to be snatched up by the record industry.
"Back in the '60s and '70s, if someone was in a band at
17, 18 or 19, that was normal," he said. "That's what most
rock bands were — young guys. That's why it was cool to want
to be in one. Jimmy Page was 19 when he started. Tommy
Stinson was 14 when he made the first Replacements record
"It's an advantage in some ways because you can relate to
your audience more. It's a disadvantage in others because
of the hype around it. People want to compare us to Hanson
or something, just because we're young — which is all we
have in common with Hanson."
For now, these young'uns will be touring around the
region, casually supporting "The Perfect Kellulight" until
the record is officially released to radio next month.
Then stand back and watch as they shove the Smashing
Pumpkins off the modern rock chart.
Just a prediction.
With Fanzine and the Kickbacks
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: The Fur Shop, 320 E. Third St.
Tickets: Cover charge at the door
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.